London hosts this new musical version of The Bodyguard which opens for pre-views from November 6th at the Adelphi Theatre.
Based on the film which starred Kevin Costner and the late, great, Whitney Houston. The role of Rachel Marron will be played by Heather Headley and the male lead, Frank Farmer, will be played by Lloyd Owen.
Many of us will remember the story of the film. Rachel Marron is a famous singer who is being stalked by a sinister ‘fan’. Her management hires former secret service agent Frank Farmer (The Bodyguard), to protect her. Boy meets girl, they can’t stand each other, lots of arguments and feathers fly. Eventually though they are drawn together by an increasingly threatening situation and fall in love.
It’s All About the Music
Music we already know and love will be central to the production and it does seem hard to avoid calling it a ‘juke-box musical’. The bulk of the music will be drawn from Whitney Houston’s greatest hits. We can expect to hear songs like Queen of the Night, So Emotional, One Moment in Time, Saving All My Love, I’m Your Baby Tonight, Run to You, I Have Nothing, Jesus Loves Me, I Wanna Dance With Somebody and, of course the famous ballad I Will Always Love You.
So, at least to begin with, much of the show will be about giving a credible impression, if not impersonation(!), of Whitney Houston. With luck and talent the show may surpass its founding star and go on to stand on its own merits.
For many in the audience much of the production will stand or fall on Heather Headley’s voice and how close it, and her performance, is to Whitney Houston’s. Originally from Trinidad the actress grew up in the United States and has impeccable gospel and pop credentials. She has a great voice. Just listen to her singing the most famous song in the show. I Will Always Love You is an amazingly hard song to sing well, as anyone who has ever been to a karaoke bar will confirm!
Heather’s phrasing is almost identical to Whitney’s version so it should please Whitney fans. (There are strange people like me who prefer the original Dolly Parton version but Heather does do this difficult song very well.)
Lloyd Owen takes the Kevin Costner role, as Frank Farmer. Lloyd is RADA trained and is largely known as a serious stage actor. You might remember him from the BBC drama Monarch of the Glen, where he turned up as Archie’s hunkier, illegitimate half brother and eventually took over as Laird. (Sorry, too much in depth knowledge, I loved that show!). Apparently, though he hasn’t been in musicals before, Lloyd has a baritone voice. Sadly we don’t seem likely to get chance to hear it.
From the publicity The Bodyguard comes across a bit like a cross between Ghost the Musical and Thriller Live. It is a remake of a famous film, which was a vehicle for a great singer, recently deceased. We can’t go and see Whitney Houston in concert any more but we can go and see one of her best performances re-created, live on the stage. There are obvious parallels with Thriller Live and the Jackson fans who have kept the show going far longer than anyone predicted.
Maybe Houston’s fans, and there are plenty of them, can do the same for The Bodyguard. London may just take this new show to its heart and let it run long enough to develop its own following. After all that is what seems to have happened with We Will Rock You, Mamma Mia! and Jersey Boys, many of whose audiences were not born till long after the songs were famous.